Great Moments In Opera, Verdi’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” From Gianni Schicchi

Published: 07th April 2010
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An article about the aria "O Mio Babbino caro" taken from Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi.

Puccini's opera "Gianni Schicchi" which lasts one act starts out with the death of a man whose fortune attracts many. All of them wanting to inherit as much as possible and it is with sadness and hope that they go through the recently deceased's house; looking for the will that will clarify who will receive what and how much. Lauretta for her part only wants enough money so that she and her beloved may at last get married.

It is however once the will is found that all receive a shock when they are made aware that all has been left to a convent and nothing for them. Alarmed they do not know what to do while Laureta says good bye to all hope of being happy with the man of her adoration. It is nonetheless in this despair that the idea comes to mind of calling for Lauretta's father; Gianni Schichi. It being he who though unpopular with most is thought to be the only one who can find a solution to the problem and save them from receiving nothing from a will they feel should have been more generous with them.

Gianni Schicchi however once made aware of the situation refuses to help these people, whom he sees as opportunists and little else; this being what he declares in no unclear way with the words "Al propo di quella gente niente, niente" as he crosses his arms in anger. The translation of this in to English being "concerning those people, I will do nothing, nothing" yet it is as the music is dying out along with the hopes of all that a faint sound starts to rise; almost out of the ashes of tragedy that are all about. It is heard softly, almost in the background as a pleading voice cries out "O mio babbino caro". This meaning "oh, my dear father" along with the rest of the aria which Lauretta sings to her father as she begs him to help her and her beloved get the money they will need to get married yet in all there is so much love and true passion; as lauretta's suffering is tremendous. It being clear in the message she sends to her father about how if her love would prove to be in vain she would prefer to throw herself in the river than to go on.

"O Mio Babbino Caro" is a romantic aria yet it differs from most in being a plea in the name of love from a young lady, not to the one she wishes to be with but to her father; not to ignore her adoration for the one she feels she can not live without. These sentiments being accompanied by a music which has a feeling of longing which seems will never really be fulfilled yet it implores along with the cries of lauretta; who wishes more than anything that her father give her this which to her has become everything.

Naturally, it is after hearing his daughter's supplication that Gianni Schichi agrees to do what he can so the fortune which was promised to a convent will remain with those in the room and by virtue of which his daughter will be able to be taken to wife by the man who likewise adores her. As for "O Mio Babbino Caro", it has been used outside of the opera on many an occasion; with notable cases being the film "A Room With A View" and a female figure skater who won the gold medal at the 2006 winger Olympics. This perhaps due to the music which seems to be slowly releasing hope and passion in a way resembling a figure skater in the act of gliding across not only ice but clouds.

There have been many great divas to perform "O Mio Babbino Caro" through out the years yet I would say that my favorite soprano and love of my opera life, Angela Gheorghiu is superb; specially in taking the very high note that comes almost at the very begging. It being when Lauretta is telling her father how beautiful she finds the one she sings about. As a footnote to this aria I can add that in the dialect of Toscana, "babbo" means father with the word "babbino" being its affectionate version.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, I am an author who writes with the simple aim of sharing his ideas, thoughts and so much more of what I am with those who are interested in perhaps reading something new. I also am the author of the book entitled "New York's Opera Society".

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